An underground museum featuring ancient trees buried by volcanic eruption and hidden for millennia
The Sanbe Azukihara Buried Forest is a remarkable site that showcases a lost world of trees that lay hidden until just a few decades ago. Located at the base of Mt. Sanbe in Shimane Prefecture, this underground museum offers visitors a glimpse into the past, where ancient trees have been preserved for thousands of years.
The discovery of the Sanbe Azukihara Buried Forest in 1983 was a significant event in the field of archaeology and natural history. It revealed a treasure trove of ancient trees that had been buried by volcanic ash and debris during a cataclysmic eruption around 4,000 years ago. This natural disaster wiped out all life in the surrounding area, but due to the unique topography of the valley where the forest is located, many of the trees remained standing.
The museum itself is a marvel of engineering and design. To access it, visitors must first enter through a small door and descend a long, curving stairway that leads them 15 meters underground. As they make their way down, they are greeted by a magical world of giant, ancient trees. Some of the trunks lie horizontally, while others still stand upright as they did thousands of years ago.
The trees in the Sanbe Azukihara Buried Forest are predominantly cedars, known as “sugi” in Japanese. They are among the tallest and widest trees in the forest, with some reaching heights of over 12 meters and diameters of 2.5 meters. These ancient giants have been remarkably preserved, thanks to the protective layers of volcanic ash that surrounded them for millennia.
Walking through the underground museum, visitors can marvel at the sheer size and age of these ancient trees. The atmosphere is awe-inspiring, as the dimly lit space adds to the sense of mystery and wonder. It is a place where time stands still, and visitors can imagine what life was like thousands of years ago when these trees were still part of a thriving forest.
The Sanbe Azukihara Buried Forest is not only a testament to the power of nature but also a reminder of the resilience of life. Despite the devastating eruption that buried them, these trees have managed to survive and remain intact for thousands of years. They are a symbol of strength and endurance, offering a glimpse into the past and a connection to the natural world.
Visiting the Sanbe Azukihara Buried Forest is a unique and unforgettable experience. To get there, visitors can take a train to Odashi Station, followed by a 40-minute bus ride in the direction of Satsume. From the bus stop at Azukiharaguchi, it is a 20-minute walk down a side road to reach the museum entrance.
Once inside, visitors are transported to a different world, where time seems to stand still. The museum provides informative displays and exhibits that explain the history and significance of the buried forest. Visitors can learn about the geological processes that led to its formation and the scientific discoveries that have been made since its accidental discovery in 1983.
One of the highlights of the museum is a second, smaller exhibition that allows visitors to see a close-up view of the stump and roots of a tree whose trunk has been removed and is on display at the nearby Shimane Nature Museum of Mt. Sanbe. This provides a unique opportunity to examine the intricate details of these ancient trees up close.
The Sanbe Azukihara Buried Forest is not only a place of scientific and historical significance but also a site of natural beauty. The surrounding area is lush and green, with Mt. Sanbe providing a stunning backdrop. Visitors can take leisurely walks through the forest, enjoying the tranquility and serenity that nature has to offer.
In conclusion, the Sanbe Azukihara Buried Forest is a hidden gem in Shimane Prefecture, offering visitors a unique and immersive experience. The underground museum provides a fascinating look into the past, where ancient trees have been preserved for thousands of years. It is a place of wonder and discovery, where visitors can connect with nature and gain a deeper understanding of our planet’s history. A visit to the Sanbe Azukihara Buried Forest is truly an unforgettable experience that should not be missed.
Address And Maps Location:
58-2 Sanbecho Tane, Oda-shi, Shimane-ken